You might have caught this yesterday, but it's definitely worth covering again. The Football Outsiders crew examined defensive linemen and the QB hurry, unsexy cousin to the sack, for a piece at ESPN (unfortunately hidden behind their Insider wall).
It should be fairly obvious why the hurry is important, but dig what the numbers say:
Hurries aren't as immediately effective as sacks, in that they don't end plays, but they do affect quarterback play. Last season, the average pass play yielded 6.2 yards and a mean DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average, FBO's per-play efficiency metric) of 13.6 percent. When the defense hurried the quarterback, the average pass play gained 5.0 yards and averaged a DVOA of minus-16.2 percent.
It's hardly a state secret that the St. Louis Rams pass rush left a little to be desired last in 2009. However, the season did see a nice sophomore campaign from DE Chris Long, who picked up four sacks amidst a strong second half of the season.
Guess what? Long also led the Rams in QB hurries and his 20.5 hurries were a respectable total among his peers around the league. There's more. Long's 20.5 hurries represented 23 percent of the Rams' 89 total QB hurries, making him one of ten players with the highest percentage of his team's hurries.
What's this say about the Rams front four? It underscores the need for more help among the Rams front four, another defender that requires opposing blockers to double up coverage, freeing up Long to do more work behind the line of scrimmage. That could come either in the middle or on the other edge. Will the growth of players like Darrell Scott and the addition of an experienced vet like Fred Robbins make a difference in the middle? Can Flajole get contributions from the rookie trio of Hall Davis, George Selvie and Eugene Sims? Those questions will be answered soon enough.